Here’s why you’re getting more election related mail and text messages

MADISON, Wis. — If it seems like you’re getting more election and voting related mail and text messages this year, you’re right. More and more organizations are using technology and your public voting record to contact you in any way they can. And according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission spokesperson Reid Magney, his organization is required by law to give out your information.

“Voter records are public records,” he said. “That transparency is one of the things that keeps our elections free and honest.”

But Magney knows that’s a double-edged sword.

“People can buy Wisconsin statewide voter registration lists. It costs them $12,500 to get the whole state list.”

Your information is available to any organization that pays for it through BadgerVoters.WI.Gov. Magney says there are about six active organizations that bought Wisconsin voter registration lists. They can see your name, address, phone number, email, and if you voted in the last election.

The cost goes to the state to help pay for the voting system and actually limits how much tax money the WEC needs. It’s also why you are coming home to more election related mail.

“The state passed a law in 2015 or 2016 that requires our agency to have a subscription service,” Magney said. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about it, unless you’re willing to take a bit of a risk.

“If you want to contact your municipal clerk’s office and ask them to remove your phone number and email address from your voter record, you can certainly do that and they will do that for you. But just realize if for some reason there’s a problem with your absentee ballot, the clerk is going to have to send you a letter to get you to fix it. They’re not going to be able to reach out to you,” Magney said.

Magney said the best thing to do is ignore the mail and texts. But there are also things to watch out for.

“We are seeing a lot of complaints,” said Lara Sutherlin with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Sutherlin said most political texts are harmless, but watch out for anything that has a link in it.

“You should avoid clicking and that’s because most people are not going to send you a link because of how many scams and fraud is out there,” Sutherlin said.

If it looks like a scam and they’re asking for money or personal information, report it to DATCP.

“If you get something in the mail asking you to register to vote or request an absentee ballot, there are much easier ways to do it than using something from somebody from outside of Wisconsin,” Magney said.

In order for you to stay vigilant this election season, if you want to donate to a party or candidate or learn more about them, go directly to their website or a source that you trust.

More voting and election related information can be found here. For a list of election related scams to watch out for, click here.